Interminably Looped

Lately I find myself in in the unfortunate position of being nostalgic for my own thinking, perhaps a sign I’m in need of a change. Last year I had a conversation with the great Vanessa Gennarelli about ds106 and community building. I’m both surprised and thrilled that ds106 remains fascinating to folks, and I never get tired talking about it. That said, I have less and less to do with its magic every passing day. The above clip is a snippet from that conversation culled and interminably looped by the indefatigable Mariana Funes,  This bit was fodder for a longer post by Mariana about teaching happening in the comments. She sums up her pedagogical philosophy as follows:

This semester has made it clear that I am just not interested in the kind of teaching that does not allow me to converse meaningfully with all my students and allows my students to converse with each other and with me.

Amen. And it aligns quite well with how I aspire to teach ds106, although I sometimes fall quite short—such as this past semester when I didn’t comment, interact, converse, and get to know the students nearly as well as I would have liked. That’s my loss. They did a very good job getting to know each other, despite my lack this go around.

But it reminded me of a general sense I have these days that I’m further and further away from the things that get me excited. I’m more a middle manager than anything else, and that is starting to wear thin for me. I have lost all interest in managing people, and my creative and intellectual work is starting to suffer. I’m part of an amazing independent web hosting company that  Tim Owens and I have built over the last two years, but I rarely talk about it on the bava? Why?

Because I feel somehow it’s not right. Despite the fact the work we do at Reclaim Hosting further promotes the work we’ve done (and still do) at UMW, crossing the streams pushes into “murky” territory. I need to feel free to blog the way I want to. In fact, I’ve spent most of this year between two worlds. Imagining the possibilities of the one, while trying to manage the reality of the other. It’s been unfair to both, so I am coming to a moment when I need to make a decision.

I’ve been at UMW for near on a decade now. So much of my edtech identity is tied up with Mary Wash, and my professional relationships run far and deep on campus. My work at UMW has been the result of countless explorations and experiments with faculty partners. We’ve been given space, if not resources, that have enabled so many of cool things to thrive. Whether or not that was always intentional is another question, but it happened nonetheless, and the trace of what was is the “post facto evidence of relationships happening in time and space.” But time goes on, and as much as I love my proclivity for nostalgia, I’m at my best getting excited for what’s to come. Dreaming about the adjacent possible, and pushing for another way. It’s hightime to reclaim my future 🙂

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6 Responses to Interminably Looped

  1. I could have written a similar sounding post about 18 months ago. Just the names and places would have changed.
    Reclaim your future, I highly recommend – it’s great and the right thing for you and those who are important to you.
    Best to you in finding how your universe will unfold – looking forward to your next chapter whatever it may be.

    • Reverend says:

      Thanks Kathy! Funny enough, you were the presence in noir106 I wish I was. I appreciate the comment, this was a post I have been trying to write for a while, and to hear that 18 months later you know you made the right choice is affirming for me. I think however things unfold, I am committed to them unfolding right here on this blog 🙂

  2. Amen to this. I turned 45 yesterday and I know that I’ve been struggling with this same things that you are for the past year or so as well. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a mid career thing or what it is. But I’ve been determined as I move into what is probably the final 10 years of my teaching career that I want to spend them doing interesting, new and different things. I’m much more interested in the “grey areas” than I am in the black and white. That’s where the good stuff crawls out of in my experience.

    • Reverend says:


      Good to know I am not alone. I think some of my work is calcifying around things I’ve actually built, ironically. With the work we are doing with Reclaim it seems like a whole world of both technical and interpersonal that would force me to learn and learn again. I am up for that. I’m gonna try and write through and blog as much of this transition as possible. I think it’s a very good thing, I just have been so locked into a place and a way that the decoupling from UMW is not going to be easy.

  3. Good travels on this route, Jim!! I feel very much sympathetic and recognize this dual force you’re talking about, “Imagining the possibilities of the one [world], while trying to manage the reality of the other.” Good thing you see this and play with it now!!

    • Reverend says:

      Problem is I also know how good I have it at UMW 🙂 I have been very, very lucky. But I’m finding it increasingly difficult to resist the urge to explore some new challenges and possibilities, but if not now, then when? I am not a number, I am prisoner106!

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